As I write these words we are about one hour away from an amazing journey in the history of our people and of the entire United States of America. In about one hour Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the Unites States of America. This was certainly not how many people predicted January 20, 2017 would look like.
As the magazine “The Nation” wrote before the election: “It’s the job of the news media to make it seem that it’s different this time, so that we need to tune in and keep up. But the political scientists say it’s probably not going to be different this time. Whatever the polls say now (and right now they show Hillary ahead), the long-term patterns of American politics tell us that Trump is not going to get millions more votes than Romney did, and he’s not going to carry enough swing states to overcome the historic pattern of Democratic advantage. Hillary will win in November, and she will be sworn in as our next president on January 20.”
Almost every single media outlet ‘guaranteed’ a Clinton victory and a Trump defeat; the overwhelming majority thought it would not even be close. However, as the Yiddish saying goes: דער מענטש טראַכט” און גאָט לאַכט” – “A man plans and Hashem laughs.”
We can relate to false prophets. How often in our history did the ‘experts’ consider Judaism and the Jewish people to be (Chas V’Shalom) on their ‘last legs?’ Too often in history we were ‘written off’ as having no chance anymore; of being ‘discarded,’ and yet, we are still here and we too beat the odds time and time again.
There are other lessons to be gleaned from this inauguration. Despite the fact that the election process was quite a divisive and polarizing process… nevertheless, it is inspiring and motivating for all of us to witness a peaceful and dignified and unchallenged transfer of power from one administration to the next. Mr. Obama will not be joining forces with Mrs. Clinton to set up an ‘alternate government;’ quite the opposite. Mr. Obama has already left on vacation and Mrs. Clinton respectfully attended the inauguration. The exact same army and security forces who pledged allegiance to Mr. Obama will now be dedicated and loyal to the new president, notwithstanding their personal feelings and political inclinations.
That is certainly a lesson for all of us to ponder and consider. Many of us reside in growing Jewish communities which is good; however, too often every ten Jews who move to a new “Jewish Street” in the neighborhood feel the ‘need’ to open up their own shteibel. Is that a real sign of Jewish unity?
And even in the overall larger Jewish community too many ‘factions’ plague our kehilla; with rival factions dividing previously united groups thereby draining the community of vital resources. The fact that no one questions the legitimacy (despite rancorous protests to the opposite) of the new President is a something that America can and should be proud of.
Perhaps it’s something we can learn from?
As I conclude these words, President Trump has just been sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America; capping a unpredicted and meteoric rise for Mr. Trump – the son of an immigrant – to the position of the most powerful man in the world. I conclude with words I just heard from the inauguration. Rabbi Marvin Heir – the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center – recited one of three closing benedictions. Rabbi Heir said, (and his words are true whatever your feelings are about Mr. Trump or of Mr. Obama), “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.” [Tehillim 137:5]
Our future is in Yerushalayim; never forget this.